Join Rachel Yoder on a series of adventures with this story collection written by bestselling author of Amish fiction Wanda E. Brunstetter. Four stories under one cover will provide you with unlimited entertainment and laughs along the way as you accompany Rachel to church (along with some unwelcome frogs!), encounter trouble with the name “O-R-L-I-E” (and a face full of freckles), and even sled into an icy-cold creek (brrr!).
About the Author
New York Times bestselling and award-winning author, Wanda E. Brunstetter is one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre. She has written close to 90 books translated in four languages. With over 10 million copies sold, Wanda's stories consistently earn spots on the nations most prestigious bestseller lists and have received numerous awards. Wanda’s ancestors were part of the Anabaptist faith, and her novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Her books are well-read and trusted by many Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs. When Wanda visits her Amish friends, she finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties. Wanda enjoys photography, ventriloquism, gardening, bird-watching, beachcombing, and spending time with her family. She and her husband, Richard, have been blessed with two grown children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. To learn more about Wanda, visit her website at www.wandabrunstetter.com.
Read an Excerpt
Look Out, Lancaster Country
4-in-1 Story Collection
By Wanda E. Brunstetter
Barbour Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 2008 Wanda E. Brunstetter
All rights reserved.
The Unforgettable Picnic
Rachel Yoder shivered when the thunder clapped. She didn't like storms, and she especially didn't want one this evening. She was tempted to bite off the end of a fingernail like she often did when she felt nervous, but she caught herself in time. Nail biting could make you sick if your hands were dirty, and it was a bad habit she needed to break. Her mom often said so.
Rachel poked her head through the flap at the back of her family's dark gray Amish buggy and was glad to see that it wasn't raining. Maybe the storm would pass them and be on its way. Today was Friday, and this evening's picnic was her family's way to celebrate the last day of the school year. She didn't want anything to spoil their fun.
A horn honked from behind, and Pap guided their horse to the side of the road. Rachel peeked out the flap again, this time sticking her head out so she could get a good look at the fancy cars going by. Woosh! A gust of wind came up as she leaned out to wave at a shiny blue convertible. Zip! Rachel gasped as the white kapp [cap] she wore on her head sailed into the air and landed near the edge of the road. "Ach! [Oh!] My kapp—it's gonna get run over!" she hollered.
"Rachel Yoder, you know better than to lean out the buggy like that," Pap scolded. "What if you had fallen?"
"Can I get my kapp?" she asked tearfully.
"No!" Mom shook her head. "You might get hit by a car."
As the blue convertible started to pass, Rachel saw surprise on the face of the blond woman riding in the passenger's seat. The car pulled over behind their buggy, and the woman got out. She picked up Rachel's kapp and brought it over to the stopped buggy. "I believe this blew out of your buggy," she said, handing the limp-looking kapp to Rachel's father.
"Thank you," Pap said. "It belongs to my daughter."
"Thank you," Rachel echoed as Pap handed the kapp to her.
Rachel's cheeks heated with embarrassment as she put the kapp on her head.
"Stay in your seat now, Rachel," Pap said. He waited until the car had passed; then he pulled back into traffic.
Jacob, who was eleven, two years older than Rachel, sat up and yawned. He had been asleep in the seat beside her. "Are we there? I'm hungry."
"No, Pap stopped to let some cars go by." Rachel was careful not to mention that her kapp had blown off when she'd leaned out of the buggy. She knew Jacob would have teased her about it.
Jacob wrinkled his forehead, and the skin around his blue eyes crinkled. "Noisy cars sometimes scare our horse as they whiz by."
Rachel had seen horses do all kinds of strange things when they got spooked. She felt sorry for the horses. Still, she thought it would be fun to ride in a fast car. She leaned close to Jacob and whispered, "I saw a shiny blue convertible."
He shrugged. "So?"
"I'd like to ride in a car like that one someday," Rachel said. It was a secret she'd told no one else.
Jacob looked at Rachel as if she didn't have a lick of sense. Of course, she knew her brother thought most things she said and did were kind of strange.
"Don't you ever get tired of riding in this closed-in buggy?" she asked.
"'Course not. I like our buggy just fine," he said.
"If I ever get the chance to ride in a convertible and see how fast it goes, I'm gonna take it," she mumbled.
Jacob nudged Rachel's arm. "You'd best not let anyone hear you speak such foolishness. It's one thing to ride in a car when we need to hire a driver for a reason, like to go to the big city. But just riding in one so you can see how fast it goes would be seen as a prideful, selfish wish."
Rachel crossed her arms and turned her back to her brother. She decided to drop the subject, but she turned around again and glared at Jacob when their parents weren't looking. He didn't understand the way she felt. He hardly ever did, and neither did their older brother, Henry. But at least Henry didn't act like something was wrong with her, the way Jacob did.
Boom! Rachel shuddered again. "It better not rain and spoil our picnic," she said, hoping Jacob wouldn't notice her hands shaking.
He elbowed her in the ribs. "What's the matter? Are you afraid of a little dunner [thunder]?"
"It's not the thunder that makes me naerfich [nervous]," she said, elbowing him right back. "It's those horrible bolts of wedderleech [lightning] I'm worried about."
"We'll be okay. It's not even raining, so the storm will probably pass over us." Jacob leaned his head against the back of the seat and closed his eyes again.
Maybe if I think about something else I won't feel so nervous. Rachel glanced toward the front of the buggy, where her parents and older sister, Esther, sat chatting in the Pennsylvania Dutch language that Amish people often spoke.
"Em Tom sei hutschle bin ich leedich [I'm tired of Tom's neighing]," her father said.
Rachel clutched the folds in her dress. It worried her to hear Pap complaining about their horse Tom. Pap had just said, "I'm tired of Tom's neighing," and she wondered if he was planning to get rid of their old horse. Rachel couldn't bear the thought. Tom was a nice animal and had been their main buggy horse for many years. What was wrong with a little neighing? People talked whenever they wanted to say something. Shouldn't a horse be able to neigh whenever he felt like it?
Mom responded to Pap's comment, but another car whizzed past and drowned out her words. Rachel felt left out. She thought she should know if they planned to get rid of Tom.
"Kens devun hot's duh kenne [Neither one could do it]," Esther said.
Who was her sister talking about, and what couldn't they do? Rachel was about to ask, but Pap pulled onto the dirt road leading to the pond, and she craned her neck to see the water.
"Yea! We're here, and the storm's passed by, so we can have our picnic!" Jacob jumped out of the buggy and ran toward the pond.
Esther stepped down next. The small white kapp perched on the back of her brown hair was always neatly in place. Not like Rachel's head covering, which often came loose during playtime.
Rachel climbed out of the buggy and reached up to touch her own kapp, to be sure it was still there. Mom often scolded her for not remembering to put it on when they went out in public.
Esther smiled. "It's a wunderbaar gut [wonderful good] evening for a picnic."
"Jah [Yes]," Mom said. "It is a wonderful good evening for a picnic. Too bad Henry didn't want to join us."
"He'd rather be with his aldi [girlfriend]." Jacob rolled his eyes so they looked like they were crossed, and he coughed a couple of times as though he were gagging.
"Any sixteen-year-old boy who has a girlfriend wants to be with her. Henry thinks he's in love. That's what some nineteen-year-old girls think, too." Pap gave his brown beard a tug as he winked at Esther.
Esther's cheeks turned pink. Even though it hadn't been officially announced yet, Esther's family knew that she planned to marry Rudy King in the fall.
Rachel leaned into the buggy and grabbed a patchwork quilt from under the backseat. She didn't want to hear all this mushy love talk or think about getting married. She felt the best part of life was playing in the creek near their home, climbing a tree, or lying in the grass, dreaming about the interesting things she saw whenever they visited one of the nearby towns in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
Esther followed Rachel to a spot near the pond, and the two of them spread the quilt on the grass. Jacob ran along the water's edge, throwing flat rocks and hollering every time he made a perfect ripple. Pap unhitched Tom and tied him to a tree. Then he took their ice chest from the back of the buggy. Mom carried the picnic basket, and the two of them headed toward the quilt.
"I'm never getting married," Rachel told her sister.
Esther smoothed the edges of the quilt. "You'll change your mind someday."
"Rachel's probably right. She'll never get married 'cause she's too much of a boppli [baby]," Jacob said, as he joined them by the quilt.
"I am not a baby!"
Rachel couldn't let her brother have the last word, so she jerked the straw hat off his sandy-blond head and flung it into the air. "Am not!"
"Hey!" Jacob raced after his hat and grabbed it when it landed near the edge of the pond.
"Settle down, you two." Pap placed the ice chest on the grass. "We came to celebrate school being out, not to see who can shout the loudest or stir up the most trouble."
"That's right," Mom agreed as she opened the wicker basket and removed plates, cups, napkins, and silverware. "Let's put our energy into eating this good food that Esther and I prepared."
Rachel flopped onto the quilt with a groan. "What about me? I did the blicking [shelling] of the peas for the salad."
"Do you want me to tell Mom how many you wasted by seeing if you could hit the goose's beak?" Jacob murmured quietly so their parents couldn't hear.
Rachel glared at him. She didn't think anyone had seen her. But the goose was always so mean to her, she couldn't resist the urge to boing a few peas at it.
Pap removed his hat and scooted over beside Rachel. "Shelling peas is important business."
Rachel smiled. At least someone appreciated her efforts. Her stomach rumbled as Esther opened the ice chest and set out the picnic food. Scents of golden brown fried chicken, tossed green salad with fresh peas, pickled beets, muffins with apple butter, and homemade root beer filled the air.
"It's surprising we had any root beer to bring on our picnic," Jacob said, nudging Rachel with his elbow. "If you'd dropped a few more jars the day Pap made the root beer, we wouldn't have any to drink."
Rachel frowned. She couldn't help it if she'd accidentally dropped two jars of root beer when she'd carried them to the cellar. They'd been slippery and didn't want to stay in her hands. Then she'd had a sticky mess to clean up.
"Clumsy butterfingers," Jacob taunted. "You're always making a mess."
"That's enough, you two," Mom said with a shake of her head.
Rachel settled back on the quilt. She couldn't wait to grab a drumstick and start eating. But first, all heads bowed for silent prayer. Thank You, Lord, for this food and for the hands that prepared it, she prayed. Bless it to the needs of my body. Amen.
When Pap cleared his throat, it signaled the end of prayer time. "Now let's eat until we're full!"
Mom passed the container of chicken to Rachel, and she reached for a drumstick. She added a spoonful of salad to her plate, two pickled beets, and a muffin. "Yum. Everything looks mighty gut." She was about to take a bite of the chicken, when Jacob smacked it right out of her hands. "Hey! That's mine!" she hollered.
"You want to eat that after a stinkbug's been on it?" he said, studying the leg.
"What?" Rachel eyed the chicken leg. Jacob was right. There was a fat old stinkbug on her piece of chicken.
Jacob smashed the bug with his thumb and handed it back to her. "Here you go."
A terrible odor drifted up to Rachel's nose. "Eww ... that stinks! Why'd you do that, Jacob?"
He gave her a crooked grin. "Didn't figure you'd want to eat a stinkbug."
She put the chicken leg on the edge of her plate and pushed it away. "I'm not eating that stinky thing now."
Jacob snickered. "Jah, I'll bet that could make you real sick. You might even die from eating chicken that had a smelly bug like that on it."
"I'm not hungry now." Rachel folded her arms and frowned.
"Just take another piece of chicken and finish eating your meal," Mom said as she stared at Rachel over the top of her silver-framed glasses.
Pap looked over at Jacob and frowned. "You shouldn't be teasing your sister."
"Sorry," Jacob mumbled with his mouth full of muffin.
Rachel took another drumstick, and her stomach flip-flopped. What if she'd eaten that piece of chicken with the stinkbug on it? Could she have gotten sick? Her appetite was gone, but she knew if she didn't eat all her supper, she wouldn't get any dessert. She probably couldn't play after the meal, either. She bit into the fresh piece of chicken, trying not to think about the smelly stinkbug.
"I'm glad school's out," Jacob said. "I think we should have a picnic every night to celebrate."
Mom smiled. "We'll try to have several picnics this summer, but remember there's plenty of work to do. We women have a big garden to care for, and you'll help your daed [dad] and bruder [brother] in the fields."
"Right now I don't want to think about working." Jacob swiped a napkin across his face and jumped up. "I'm going to play in the pond."
"Don't get your clothes wet or muddy. I don't need dirty laundry to do when we get home," Mom said as Jacob sprinted off in his bare feet.
"Immer druwwle eiyets. [Always trouble somewhere.]" Pap looked over at Mom and grinned.
"That's true, Levi," she responded. "There's always trouble somewhere. Especially when our two youngest children get so excited about summer that they start picking on each other."
Rachel didn't like the sound of that. She wasn't trouble—just curious, as her teacher would say.
She finished her dessert and scrambled to her feet. "I think I'll go wading, too."
Mom caught hold of Rachel's hand. "I hoped you and Esther would pick wild strawberries. Plenty are growing nearby, and they'd taste wunderbaar gut for breakfast tomorrow."
"Do I have to pick berries?" Rachel whined. "I want to play in the water."
"Do as your mamm [mom] asks." Pap's eyebrows furrowed, and Rachel knew he meant what he said.
Esther stood and smoothed the wrinkles from her long blue dress. She looked at Rachel and smiled. "I can pick the berries on my own."
While Rachel waited for her mother's reply, an irritating bee buzzed overhead.
"I guess it would be okay," Mom finally agreed.
Rachel swatted at the bee. Big mistake. A few seconds later, a burning pain shot from her finger all the way up her arm.
"Ach!" she cried, jumping up and down from the shock of the bee's sting. She shook her finger and waved her arm.
"Calm down," Pap instructed as he took a look at her hand. "Scoot over to the pond, take a little dirt and water, then pat the mud on the stinger. That should help draw it out."
Rachel dashed to the pond. She had wanted to go there, but not with a cruel bee stinger making her whole arm throb.
Near the water's edge, she found Jacob building a dam from mud, rocks, and twigs. His dark trousers, held up by tan suspenders, were rolled up to his knees.
He gets to have all the fun! Rachel thought. It's not fair.
She scooped some dirt into her hand and added several drops of water. When a muddy paste formed, she spread it on her sore finger. Soon the throbbing lessened, so Rachel decided to see if she could make a better dam than Jacob's.
She waded into the cool water and giggled as it splashed against her legs. The bottom was mushy and squished between her bare toes.
"You'd better watch out," Jacob warned. "Your dress is getting wet."
Rachel glanced down. Sure enough, the hem was dark from where the water had soaked through. "I wish I didn't have to wear long dresses all the time," she grumbled. "You're lucky to be a boy."
Jacob frowned as if Rachel had said something terrible. "You complain too much. Can't you be happy with the way things are?"
Rachel stuck her finger between her teeth and bit off the end of the nail, spitting it into the water. "Sometimes I wonder if I'm supposed to be Amish."
Her brother's eyebrows lifted. "You were born Amish."
"I know, but sometimes I feel—" Rachel stared into space. Way down inside, where she hid her deepest secrets, she wondered what it would be like if she could do some of the things the non-Amish children her people called "English" got to do. "Sometimes I wish I could wear pants and shirts like the English girls do," she said.
"Sisters! Who can figure 'em out?" Jacob pointed at Rachel. "Especially you, little bensel [silly child]."
"I am not a silly child. If anyone's silly, it's you." Rachel flicked some water in Jacob's direction, and the drops landed on his shirtsleeve, making little dark circles.
Her brother only chuckled as he kept building his mud dam.
Rachel plodded toward the shore and gathered a few more twigs. She would make her dam even bigger than Jacob's, and then he would see that she wasn't a bensel. "Now, what did I do with that twig I was going to use?" she muttered.
Excerpted from Look Out, Lancaster Country by Wanda E. Brunstetter. Copyright © 2008 Wanda E. Brunstetter. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Unforgettable Picnic,
Chapter 2: Afraid of the Dark,
Chapter 3: A Wunderbaar Surprise,
Chapter 4: Egg Yolks and Hopping Frogs,
Chapter 5: Where Is Summer?,
Chapter 6: Fireflies and Secrets,
Chapter 7: Birthday Surprises,
Chapter 8: Skateboard Troubles,
Chapter 9: Dunner and Wedderleech,
Chapter 10: Barn Raising,
Chapter 11: Out to Pasture,
Chapter 12: A New Friend,
Back to School,
Chapter 1: First-Day Troubles,
Chapter 2: Lunchbox Surprise,
Chapter 3: Dinky,
Chapter 4: A Hard Lesson,
Chapter 5: Hurry-Up Cake,
Chapter 6: Surprise Mondaag [Monday],
Chapter 7: More Surprises,
Chapter 8: Misadventures,
Chapter 9: Wooly Worm,
Chapter 10: Substitute Teacher,
Chapter 11: Unexpected News,
Chapter 12: A Little Secret,
Out of Control,
Chapter 1: Sledding Troubles,
Chapter 2: A Troublesome Day,
Chapter 3: True or False,
Chapter 4: Buddy,
Chapter 5: More Troubles,
Chapter 6: Lots of Snow,
Chapter 7: Grandpa's Secret,
Chapter 8: Always in a Hurry,
Chapter 9: A Dappich [Clumsy] Day,
Chapter 10: Chicken Pox and Chicken Soup,
Chapter 11: Worst Day Ever,
Chapter 12: Self-Control,
Chapter 1: Saying Good-bye,
Chapter 2: Verhuddelt,
Chapter 3: Raining Sideways,
Chapter 4: Unexpected Company,
Chapter 5: A Shocking Discovery,
Chapter 6: Another Rotten Day,
Chapter 7: Chain of Events,
Chapter 8: Wishing Fishing,
Chapter 9: Bubbles and Troubles,
Chapter 10: In the Doghouse,
Chapter 11: Skateboard Mishap,
Chapter 12: Change of Heart,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Rachel is so funny!!!!! Luv these books!!!! Read them all.
Loved it! :)